Multi-level governance and transport policy: the case of local roads in Italy

Italy is a multi-level polity where policymaking and implementation involves both public and private actors. Both territorial and functional decentralisation have an impact on the final results of policy making. In fact, territorial decentralisation implies the delegation of functions to wide multi-purpose tiers of sub-national governance, which has been a central dynamic of Italian governance. Furthermore, functional decentralization stresses the assignment of functions, vertically and horizontally, to single-purpose quasiautonomous agencies. Multi level governance (MLG) aims at understanding the nature and explaining the structure of governance networks, their inter- relationship with control, capacity, accountability and efficiency of political systems (Bache and Flinders, 2004 ; Piattoni, 2010 ). To date, only a limited use has been made of this important instrument of analysis, at least in Italy, in transport policy, in general, and in the road sector, in particular. Research in various domains such as political geography (Shaw et al., 2009), regional and urban studies (Kern and Bulkeley, 2009) and institutional economics (Marsden et al., 2009) have all stressed the crucial role governance plays in the transport sector notwithstanding the lack of a common framework of analysis. The paper synthetically reports the definitions of MLG proposed, describing their characteristics and clarifying their implications for the transport sector, as well as discussing the implications of a specific MLG for the transport sector regulatory system and for the role of local public authorities. Management and programs of the local road sector in Italy are discussed with a particular focus on the different types of solutions adopted and on the level of integration among different governance levels. Finally, a critical discussion of the situation of the local road sector in Italy, its governability and some suggestions for the future are reported.

Marcucci E., Stathopoulos A., (2012) “Multi-level governance and transport policy: the case of local roads in Italy”, International Journal of Transport Economics, Vol. XXXIX, n.1, pp.15 – 38

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